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Florence bans new Airbnbs in city centre

Florence mayor says ban on new short-term rentals in city centre is response to "cry for help" from local residents.

Florence has banned new Airbnbs from opening in the UNESCO area of its historic centre as the Italian city cracks down on a surge of short-term rentals for tourists.

The ban, approved by the council on Monday night, is not retroactive and will not affect current Airbnb rental owners who will be offered three years of tax breaks if they switch to long-term residential rentals.

In a post on social media, Florence mayor Dario Nardella said the short-term tourist rental market has grown "out of proportion" over the years and has "put the city to the test".

Nardella said the consequences are "visible to all: loss of identity of the historic centre, housing insecurity, increase in the cost of living and a drastic reduction in the availability of housing."

In a speech published on the city website, Nardella said the new measure was in response "to the legitimate cry for help coming from our students, young couples, families in need.”

The centre-left mayor cited a study published a few days ago by Corriere della Sera which revealed that 29 per cent of available housing in the historic centre of Florence is rented on the Airbnb platform.

He said that in 2016 the city had fewer than 6,000 rentals listed on Airbnb, compared to more than 14,000 today, noting that during that space of time the average cost of monthly rents for ordinary residential rentals has increased by 42 per cent.

Nardella made reference to the 40,000 Florentines residing in the city centre who have "suddenly found themselves living in 'apartment-hotels'" with increased expenses and "doorbells ringing at the most unlikely hours by tourists asking for assistance from residents as if they were hotel staff."

Nardella also complained that plans by Italy's right-wing government to regulate the short-term rental sector do not go far enough, describing the move by Florence as "a concrete step" but "not a panacea" to tackling the problem.

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